Skin-whitening cosmetics, popularized by Dutch company HUL are a multibillion-dollar industry pushing the idea that beauty equates with lighter skin and that lightening dark skin is both achievable and preferable. In a country such as India, with issues such as employment and relationships often resting on skin tone, people invest in skin-lightening creams in the hope of a better existence. Capitalizing on this inequality, hundreds of products are peddled by corporations, among them armpit lightener, genital lightener and fairness baby oil. Nearly all major cosmetic companies ( like Dove, Nivea, Pond’s, Garnier, Neutrogena, Olay ) sell products that claim alter genes to suppress melanin.
Skin color preference in matrimonial matters is something certainly not unique to India; however the way it gets expressed is most certainly distinctive from that in any other society. Whether it is sticking to the tradition of ‘arranged marriages’ but evolving from the use of matrimonial columns in newspapers to websites like shaadi.com, bharatmatrimony.com or evolving to the system of ‘love marriages’; people still prefer their partners to be light.
The deep-rooted color bias has ensured that in jobs are often given to people with light skin.
Hindustan Unilever, the manufacturer of Fair&Lovely, under its cosmetic brand name Vaseline, launched an application to make the skin of Facebook users look lighter in their profile pictures.